Meditation can sound daunting, but it’s truly one of the most accessible ways to calm your mind and your body. All you need is 10 minutes and a quiet space. If you’ve never tried it before, or you haven’t had success trying to teach yourself before, meditation apps are incredibly helpful to learn to meditate.
Generally, the best meditation apps involve a voice guiding you through the session or, at the very least, calm music to focus on. And there’s a different app for everyone, including free meditation apps and guided sleep meditations.
To find the best, we tried dozens of the most popular options. Not only did we choose those that delivered feelings of relief but the apps below worked so well, we didn’t want to stop meditating (and they still currently occupy real estate on our smartphones).
Headspace‘s narrator talks to you through each meditation and uses helpful animations and guidance to make the practice super accessible.
Pros: Free 7-day trial, lists the time of each meditation, uses a helpful narrator, free Weather the Storm meditations designed specifically for troubling times
Cons: Must complete basic meditations to have access to more advanced sessions, pricier than other meditation apps
Headspace is one of the biggest meditation apps and our top pick for a lot of reasons.
We love that everyone has to start with a 10-day basic course, which introduces you to both the app as well as to the world of guided meditation. (The first seven days are free.) The instructions on how to meditate are simple and clear and often come with super helpful illustrated videos for visual learners. As a newbie, I found these videos helped me better understand the concept of not latching onto thoughts.
These sessions are narrated by Andy Puddicombe, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace who happens to have one of the most soothing and enjoyable British voices to make the guided meditations more enjoyable.
Completing the intro course and subscribing unlocks a ton of different meditation sessions, including a Recommended for You section, ranging from a focus on appreciation, breathe, happiness, and sleep. The latter includes audio experiences, wind-down guided exercises, sleep sounds, and a moonlight library all aimed to help you get better shut-eye.
Although Headspace does offer a free meditation hub called Weathering the Storm, these are a limited number of short sessions to help you in the moment. To really learn how to meditate, you’ll need to pay the monthly fee, which is a bummer and roadblock for many. But just completing the free first seven days of the intro course can teach you a lot about the practice.
Price: 7-day free trial then $13/month, $70/year
The best guided sleep meditation
Calm tailors its guided meditations, breathing exercises, and soundscapes to your goals and needs, making it one of the best guided sleep meditations available.
Pros: A beautifully designed, aesthetically appealing layout, easy to navigate, masterclasses offered by world-renowned experts, specializes in sleep meditation
Cons: Pricier than other meditation apps, no month-to-month plan currently
Calm starts off by having you answer one simple question: “What brings you to Calm?” The answers include anything from reducing stress and improving performance to reducing anxiety or improving sleep. You’re even able to zero in on a desire to develop gratitude or build self-esteem.
The app then recommends content based on your goals and needs. This lets you practice guided meditations, breathing exercises, or enjoy relaxing music and soundscapes. They even offer walking meditations if you’re on-the-go. There are over 100 guided meditations for anxiety, stress, and sleep, and a robust library of sleep stories (perhaps its best feature) — including a sleep story narrated by the wonderfully soothing voice of Matthew McConaughey.
Calm’s Masterclasses series offers classes taught by world-renown meditation experts, as well as doctors. I enjoyed listening to these, as they provided background on the expert and it allowed for a bigger sense of trust in what they were discussing or teaching.
The app layout is extremely intuitive, too, so finding the content you’re looking for isn’t an issue.
Price: $15/mo, $70/year, $400/lifetime
The best free meditation app
The Insight Timer app offers one of the deepest wells of content, giving your meditations some variety — and it’s completely free.
Pros: Free version offers over 100,000 meditations
Cons: Anyone can add content so finding the good sessions can take some digging
This app has over 12 million users, thanks largely to its extremely diverse library of content — it has over 100,000 free guided meditations. Keeping track is easy, too, as you’re able to bookmark your favorites, allowing you to easily find and revisit them later.
Though the meditations come from over 6,000 teachers, anyone is able to publish content on the app, so keep that in mind as you search. We recommend thoroughly reading the descriptions of each or quickly trying them out before settling on one. You can also follow your favorite teachers and be alerted when they add something new — making the hunt for content much easier.
There is a premium version of the app available for $60 a year, featuring new courses published daily and the ability to fast-forward or rewind audio. But the free library is quite extensive and personally, I didn’t see a need to upgrade as I felt like the free meditations provided the options I was looking for.
Price: Free, $10/month $60/year + free 30 days for premium content
The best meditation app for skeptics
With Ten Percent Happier, even those skeptical of the benefits of meditation can ease into the practice and find what works for them.
Pros: Plenty of short meditations, sessions are divided into easy-to-understand courses, works well for beginners
Cons: The talk series is only available via a paid subscription
Ten Percent Happier knows meditation might not be everyone’s cup of tea. After having you answer a few initial questions about your meditation experience and goals, the app creates a program it says will help you make mediation a habit.
As a beginner to meditation, I like that the app asked about how much mediation I’d done in the past so that it didn’t show me advanced content I’d be unfamiliar with. For anyone who’s unsure of meditation or skeptical of its impact, diving into something advanced could turn them away.
The app is divided into various courses, each offering multiple meditation sessions to complete. Singles have just one meditation depending on what you’re looking for that day, Sleep is geared towards helping you get a few good zzz’s, and Talks are like short on-the-go podcasts (but are only available via a paid subscription).
Emmy-winning journalist and ABC News correspondent Dan Harris is one of the faces in the app, which offers live YouTube discussions with him and experts about the current climate.
Price: Free, $100/year for premium content
The best meditation app for beginners
If you want to learn to meditate, Simple Habit offers quick and easy five-minute meditation sessions that anyone can fit into their daily schedule.
Pros: Short, five-minute meditations (longer also available); meditations for a variety of topics including intimacy and pain relief
Cons: Not a large offering of longer meditations
Simple Habit‘s opening questionnaire asks specific things such as if you’re going through a breakup, whether you want beginner meditation, if you’re looking to feel less tired, or need help after an argument. You’re then provided with your first five-minute course.
Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of the meditations on the app are only five minutes, which is one of its best pros. I’m still new to meditation, so it’s hard for me to complete long sessions. These five-minute meditations feel very doable and digestible. However, there are longer sessions available for veteran meditators.
Simple Habit also has meditations for relief from pain, which is different but something I enjoyed using. I experienced a bit of lower back pain recently and the meditation gave me a better understanding of the anatomy of the back and helped me bring awareness to my aches.
The app even has a section for kids, as well as meditations to help spark intimacy. Simple Habit updated its content with relevant meditations centered around the current pandemic and global health crisis, too.
You can access many sessions for free, but for a monthly or yearly fee, you’ll gain access to over 1,000+ sessions, as well as be able to listen offline and on any device.
Price: Free; $12/month, $90/year, $300/lifetime for premium
Whitening toothpaste helps remove surface stains from teeth.
We spoke to 4 dentists on what to look for in a whitening toothpaste that won’t hurt your teeth or gums.
Our top choice, Colgate Total SF, is effective, ADA-approved, and budget-friendly.
Whether you’re a coffee addict, ex-smoker, or just want to polish your smile a little brighter, virtually everyone wants whiter teeth. There are all kinds of intensive options available, from whitening strips to in-office dental treatments. But for most of us, the easiest way is to switch up our toothpaste and ask it to do more than just fight plaque and cavities.
Whitening toothpaste generally works by using enamel-safe abrasives to physically remove surface stains. Many also contain other active ingredients, like peroxide, to dissolve stains and bleach teeth. Some even contain a chemical called blue covarine, which makes teeth appear whiter instantly by canceling out yellow tones – sort of an optical illusion.
But since not every ingredient is equal and some teeth whitening products notoriously cause tooth sensitivity, we spoke to four board-certified dentists to learn which whitening toothpaste really works. They shared the top brands they recommend to patients, as well as some tips for what to look for when shopping. We also personally tested several toothpastes to get a feel for texture, taste, and anything else a consumer might want to know.
In researching this piece, I consulted four dental professionals (see expert sources, below) as well as several published, peer-reviewed articles testing the efficacy and safety of various whitening toothpaste and active ingredients.
I also personally tried several kinds of toothpaste to take note of:
Taste: Toothpaste is toothpaste, not candy, so we don’t want to oversell the flavor of any of the products as “delicious” — but some pastes have strange, chemical, or overly-powerful flavors and aftertastes. Most of the pastes I tried had a simple, fresh taste that contributes to the overall clean feeling you want after brushing, but a few tasted mildly metallic or just plain unusual due to non-traditional flavoring ingredients.
Texture: Generally, toothpaste is either a gel or a paste and is pretty thick. I paid mind to see if any felt chalky, runny, or gritty, as well as how well they lather and spread around the mouth. Items that didn’t make the cut usually felt weird in one of these ways.
Packaging/ease of use: It’s not terribly common, but some toothpaste tubes are somewhat difficult to use because of poorly designed packaging. For example, one of the kinds of toothpaste I don’t recommend, the Plus Ultra, is in a metal tube similar to what artists’ paint comes in and was kind of a pain to squeeze. Conversely, all our picks have easy-to-open or -close caps.
The best whitening toothpaste overall
Colgate Total SF Whitening Gel is a top pick among our dentists as it’s a budget-friendly and effective way to whiten and protect the overall health of your teeth.
Pros: Inexpensive, American Dental Association (ADA) approved, provides sensitivity relief
Cons: Taste is questionable to some
Two of our expert sources, Ben El Chami, DMD, a NYC-based dentist and co-founder/chief dental officer of dntlbar and Chris Salierno, DDS, dental practitioner and chief dental officer of Tend, independently named Colgate Total Whitening as a top option they’d recommend to patients looking for a daily whitening boost. It also bears the ADA seal of acceptance, meaning the professional organization support that its efficacy and safety claims are sufficiently backed up by clinical research.
It’s a clear winner in the eyes of the pros because, in addition to whitening power, it has antibacterial properties that help defend against gum disease and tooth decay. These effects come from the active ingredient, stannous fluoride, which also helps offset the increased sensitivity some people experience when using whitening toothpastes.
The minty taste is subtle and not-too-strong without any unpleasant aftertaste. And compared to other toothpaste packaging, we love that Colgate Total has a flat flip-cap for easier access and the option to stand the tube up straight on your sink.
Pros: ADA-approved, no artificial flavorings or colorings, brand prioritizes sustainability and ethics
Cons: Some users dislike the taste, some complain that it’s less effective than traditional toothpastes in keeping breath fresh, price
Tom’s of Maine Simply White is one of very few toothpaste brands in the “natural” sector to earn ADA approval with proven whitening effects. If you prefer to steer clear of traditional toothpastes because of their ingredients, production process, or simply personal preference, Tom’s Simply White is the best bet for whiter teeth, vouched for by dentists and customers.
Like most whitening toothpastes, Tom’s Simply White uses abrasives — in this case naturally-derived silicas — to scrub off surface stains. It’s flavored with peppermint oil which delivers a mild, not overpowering fresh flavor. The tube is recyclable, which we love, and it has a smaller cap and opening which, in our experience, makes for less of a mess but also means you can’t store it upright on your bathroom counter.
Tom’s also contains fluoride. There are oft-debated but largely unproven or debunked arguments against the naturally-occurring mineral, but it’s an ingredient the ADA and every dentist we spoke with strongly encourage people to look for in their toothpaste thanks to decades-long body of evidence that make it the gold standard in cavity prevention.
Cons: Some users dislike taste and texture, not enough relief for extremely sensitive users, whitening effects are subtle
There aren’t too many whitening toothpastes on the market that specifically cater to those with sensitive teeth. Crest Pro Health Gum and Sensitivity Gentle Whitening, however, does and it’s the only ADA-approved toothpaste that offers both sensitivity relief and whitening effects. The stain removal is provided by hydrated silica, which acts as a gentle abrasive. This isn’t as extreme as some other products, both in terms of removing stains and causing sensitivity, so it’s a real trade off. But it’s the best-researched option out there for sensitivity sufferers looking for stain removal action.
The minty-sweet taste is mild but pleasant, and users say that, compared to other leading brands of sensitive toothpaste, it both tastes better and relieves sensitivity better. Like the Colgate Total SF Whitening Gel, we like that this tube has a flat flip cap for easy closure and the ability to stand vertical on a countertop to save space.
Colgate Optic White Advanced, like the other products on our list, contains gentle abrasives to scrub stains and polish teeth. But it also uses hydrogen peroxide for its natural lightening properties, giving you a one-two punch of whitening techniques – sort of like washing your white laundry with not just a strong detergent, but bleach too.
It’s the only bleaching toothpaste (not merely stain-removing) that the ADA has granted approval to, and like all ADA-approved pastes, it includes fluoride for cavity prevention. Despite its powerful whitening ability, Optic White is safe for enamel and many people report less sensitivity and irritation than with other whitening toothpastes.
The toothpaste works by creating a sort of film on the surface of your teeth so that the hydrogen peroxide can continue to work for more than just the two minutes you spend brushing. As a result, some people don’t like the feeling it leaves after you brush.
The best eco-friendly whitening toothpaste
If you’re looking for a whitening toothpaste that doesn’t just feature a clean ingredient list but also ditches the plastic tube, Bite’s toothpaste bits are what you seek.
Pros: Comes in a reusable glass jar, comes in a four-month supply each time you order, is often on sale, features a clean ingredients list, and also helps with teeth sensitivity (in addition to whitening)
Cons: Takes some getting used to compared to traditional toothpaste, doesn’t always adequately foam, doesn’t always produce the same kind of clean mouth feel (even though my mouth was still clean)
The terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” are often found in the world of toothpaste via a specific product’s ingredient list. But in the case of the brand, Bite, these terms also refer to the company’s packaging of its toothpaste which consists of a reusable glass jar as opposed to a plastic tube.
When I first tested these out, I was a little skeptical not of the glass jar (that is an objectively great way to store toothpaste) but of the actual toothpaste bits themselves. Like little pellets, the bits are a far cry from the traditional paste most people are used to and actually require you to bite down on them to crush the bit before brushing.
Not only is this an odd vehicle for toothpaste but it takes quite a while to get used to. The biggest hurdle for me was getting over just how much less foam the bits create in my mouth, which would sometimes leave me feeling as though my mouth wasn’t as clean as it could be after brushing.
But that small amount of foam is intentional. Bite’s toothpaste bits use sodium cocoyl glutamate which, when mixed with water doused on your toothbrush, produces a small amount of foam that helps clean between your teeth. You won’t see much forming on the outside of your mouth (which is a positive, I guess) but again, it does take a few times to get used to it.
I also liked that the toothpaste features a list of clean ingredients, like erythritol and xylitol, which further add to its badge of sustainability. The bits come in either a mint, charcoal, or berry flavor, though I’d recommend the mint as it gets the closest to that fresh, post-brush feeling (plus, charcoal toothpaste has its drawbacks).
Bite’s toothpaste bits are typically sold for $48 for a four-month supply which certainly isn’t cheap, though I’ve often seen it on sale for at least $10 off (if not more). There’s also a trial size available for $12 that comes with 62 bits (roughly one month) which is a good entry point for anyone on the fence.
What to look for in whitening toothpaste
There are two major categories of whitening ingredients in toothpaste: abrasives and bleaching agents. Most whitening toothpastes rely on gentle, enamel-safe abrasives that work to scrub off stains caused by eating and drinking. Technically, they’re not changing the color of your teeth, just cleaning off any gunk that might make them appear more yellow. This is going to be the vast majority of whitening toothpastes available and is why most people need to use at-home whitening kits to see a truly brighter smile.
Bleaching agents (like peroxide), on the other hand, can actually lift the color in the outermost layers of your enamel. However, they’re less common in toothpastes because they usually need more than two minutes of contact to really work (hence, why whitening strips work – they hold the bleaching agent on your teeth for several minutes). Additionally, bleaching agents can be irritating and cause sensitivity for some. The only bleaching toothpaste that made our top picks, Colgate Optic White, actually creates a film that sits on your teeth, keeping them in contact with the hydrogen peroxide for longer than the few minutes you spend brushing.
According to Drs. El Chami, Hain, and Springs, the number one thing to look for when shopping for new products is the ADA seal of acceptance. Brands can choose to submit their products to the American Dental Association, a non-profit advocating for safe dental practices, for review to obtain its seal which signals that the dental community agrees there is enough research to substantiate that a product is safe and effective. This is especially important when it comes to whitening toothpastes, as they tend to use abrasives like silica (the same stuff that makes up most of sand) to scrub off stains. The ADA review ensures those abrasives aren’t doing more harm to your enamel than good.
The other thing you need to look for is fluoride, a mineral that strengthens enamel and helps prevent cavities. The naturally occurring mineral has been demonized by phony science, but the ADA, all our experts, and a whole body of research deem it not only safe in your toothpaste, but also necessary for preventing cavities. Learn more in our FAQs.
The only ingredients dentists recommend you avoid are sugars, which improve the flavor of toothpaste but can cause adverse effects including tooth decay. Fortunately, the majority of toothpastes utilize tooth-safe sugar alternatives like xylitol or stevia.
What else we considered
Relatively few products on the market bear the ADA approval seal, which our sources overwhelmingly told us was the best way to know a product’s claims have been substantiated by research and thus the ones we can recommend to you most confidently.
That said, a product without the seal isn’t necessarily ineffectual or bad — it just likely didn’t undergo the organization’s optional review process (which does cost money, so is difficult for smaller companies to obtain). Here are some other, non-ADA-approved products that came up in our research:
What else we recommend:
BURST Fluoride ($10): This brand’s fluoridated toothpaste also boasts a lack of sodium lauryl sulfate, along with parabens and artificial flavors and colors, but it tastes and feels perfectly normal.
Smile Direct Club Premium Fluoride Whitening ($5): The brand you probably know from their subway ads also sells a whitening toothpaste, and it happens to be relatively inexpensive compared to other new-wave brands. It also tastes really good, in this writer’s opinion.
PLUS ULTRA Mint Toothpaste ($10): This toothpaste takes “natural” to another level, starting with its unique leafy green appearance. It doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, and its plant-derived ingredients are organic — but it also lacks fluoride, so we can’t recommend it.
Huppy Peppermint Toothpaste Tablets ($12): Frequent travelers may appreciate that this paste comes in the form of tablets, complete with a little storage tin. Fluoride is left out, instead including a substance called nano-hydroxyapatite. But these tablets also contain charcoal, the safety of which is still hotly contested among dentists.
Luster Premium White Pearl Paste ($7): This paste doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate or parabens, but it does contain fluoride (important) and one other notable ingredient: pearl extracts, which purportedly work as abrasives to buff off surface stains. There’s no published clinical research on pearl as a tooth whitening agent, but telling people you brush your teeth with pearls will make you sound very fancy.
Does whitening toothpaste actually work?
Yes — just maybe not as well as you might hope. Dr. Salierno explained to Insider that over-the-counter whitening toothpaste is best at removing surface stains, but for a more dramatic whitening effect, professional methods are your best bet.
“The true whitening effect that patients are typically after is the result of the removal of intrinsic stain, or stain that is more deeply embedded in the tooth surface,” Salierno said. “In order to get a great whitening result, patients would do well to have a professional cleaning first, and then use a prescription-strength whitening agent as directed by their dental team.”
Bottom line: Whitening toothpaste is safe and can be effective at removing surface stains — just don’t expect a dramatic transformation from over-the-counter toothpaste alone.
Is charcoal toothpaste safe to whiten teeth?
Glad you asked. Charcoal is a trendy ingredient right now, making its way into food, cosmetics, and yes, toothpaste. The idea is that charcoal is able to absorb impurities and thus whiten teeth, but the clinical evidence isn’t great: Reviews of laboratory studies suggest that charcoal isn’t particularly effective as a whitening agent, despite its mildly abrasive properties. What’s more, it has the potential to damage your enamel, discolor it permanently, and damage your gums, according to a 2019 study in the British Dental Journal.
More recent research supports the safety of charcoal toothpaste but dentists and researchers caution consumers that the charcoal actually runs the risk of scratching enamel or getting stuck in the gums and other crevices. Those with fillings should especially steer clear.
Is whitening toothpaste safe for my teeth?
For the most part, yes. While many whitening toothpastes use abrasive agents to scrub away stains, dentists and researchers generally find them safe and non-damaging to the enamel of your teeth. There are a few exceptions — see about charcoal, above — but for most people, whitening toothpastes don’t pose a threat to dental health. Dr. El Chami does caution, however, that those with sensitive teeth may want to avoid whitening toothpastes in favor of something gentler.
Paul Springs, DMD, a prosthodontist who practices in Queens, New York, elaborated, adding, “Some brands contain grit particles that are too large, which irreversibly wears down tooth enamel. This is often an issue with charcoal or baking soda toothpastes made by unrecognizable brands, so I strongly recommend patients only use toothpastes with the ADA seal of approval to avoid that issue.”
Just because a product doesn’t bear the ADA seal doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, but lesser-known brands may use questionable ingredients (or even questionable forms of ingredients that are generally considered tooth-safe) that are too gritty and can wear down your enamel. The ADA seal is your confirmation that everything in the tube is safe for at-home use.
What’s the big deal about the ADA Seal of Acceptance?
As we mentioned earlier, the ADA seal program is an optional review process in which companies may choose to submit a product to the professional organization for independent review to determine if there is sufficient research backing up the safety and efficacy of the product.
Because the review process is optional and potentially cost-prohibitive to smaller companies, there are many toothpastes and other dental products on the market that don’t bear the ADA seal. This doesn’t necessarily mean the products aren’t up to snuff — but the dentists we consulted with highly recommend sticking to ADA-approved products to ensure you’re getting a product that actually works and is safe.
As Dr. Springs put it, “Not having the seal isn’t enough to condemn a product, but there is enough that [damage enamel] that I wouldn’t risk chancing it.”
Is fluoride really safe?
Fluoride has been demonized by oversimplified health information and conspiracy theories for decades for supposedly causing dental staining and even cancer. While this is technically true of the chemical, it would need to be ingested in very large quantities to have these severe negative effects, far more than fluoridated water and toothpaste are likely to provide.
The dental community is at a consensus that not only is fluoridated toothpaste safe, but it’s also strongly recommended for the purpose of preventing cavities and strengthening enamel throughout your life. In fact, the ADA will not grant its seal of acceptance to any toothpaste which does not include fluoride. This goes for standard as well as whitening toothpastes — ideally, fluoride is going to be included in any toothpaste you use daily.
Dr. Ben El Chami, DMD, is a dentist and the co-founder and chief dental officer of dntlbar, a family of Manhattan dental practices.
Dr. Chris Salierno, DDS, is a dentist and the chief dental officer of Tend, a family of dental practices with locations in New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
Dr. Courtney Hain, DDS, is a dentist who owns and operates her own practice, Smile San Francisco.
Prime for EBT or Medicaid Cardholders ($5.99/month) (medium)
The best Amazon Prime benefits
In addition to free next-day or two-day shipping on millions of items, Amazon Prime can you save money on essentials like groceries, diapers, and baby food – not to mention trips to the store. It’s also worth noting that Amazon now accepts SNAP EBT on qualifying grocery items.
With access to a massive library of TV shows, movies, and original content through Prime Video, membership can also help you cut the cord if you’re still paying for cable or satellite TV. The cost of Prime with all of its features also matches that of other major streaming services alone.
Amazon Prime Day 2021, Amazon’s big two-day sale is another major benefit of having Amazon Prime. Members have exclusive access to thousands of exclusive deals, many of which are just as good or better than Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Whether you work a job that keeps you on your feet like restaurant service, retail, or medical care; you’re a runner or other athlete whose feet take a regular beating; or you have plantar fasciitis or swelling issues, your feet deserve a spa day – and, ideally, every day.
If achy or painful feet are a common problem for you, buying an at-home foot massager can actually help provide relief from the comfort of your couch. In fact, most of us would benefit from a little foot care: Simply walking on hard, flat surfaces while running errands and commuting can limit the foot’s range of motion over time, California-based physical therapist, Chad Walding, DPT, told Insider.
Stimulating the muscles and tissues in your feet releases tension, which in turn helps relieve pain and improves your foot’s freedom of movement and balance.
To narrow in on the best foot massager, we spoke with a physical therapist, a podiatrist, and a massage therapist about what to look for in a safe and effective device. If you’re not sure what exactly you’re in the market for, check out our FAQs for some additional guidance from our expert sources.
With customizable patterns of kneading, compression, and heat therapy, the RENPHO Foot Massager Machine is a full-service Shiatsu device and feels like a home spa for your feet.
Pros: Kneads and compresses, customizable settings, washable fabric cover for hygiene, optional heat therapy to help relax muscles and tendons
Cons: A little noisy, might be too intense (or not intense enough) for some users
The best foot massager on the market for value, the RENPHO Foot Massager Machine offers a little bit of everything: kneading, compression, and heat therapy, and the intensity level of each can be customized to suit your piggies’ needs.
There’s no remote to keep track of, and the on-device control panel is wide and spaced out so you can either reach down and make a selection or easily press with your toes. With a removable, washable fabric lining cupping your feet, it’s easy to keep clean and sanitary.
Many people report the RENPHO feels more like a human touch and less mechanical than comparable products. Because it envelops your entire foot, it also offers more attention to heels and ankles — important for tight tendons.
There are three different settings each for kneading and air compression intensity, creating a very personalized experience. There’s also a warming setting to help loosen tight muscles and keep your feet cozy.
Folks with plantar fasciitis report feeling less tension after use in the reviews, especially when used a few days in a row. But if your feet are simply tired, it’s a great choice for relaxation and pampering after a long day, too.
It does take a while for the warmth to kick in (up to 10 minutes), but this is a safety feature to prevent a fire. It’s made to accommodate up to a men’s size 12 foot. Those with small feet will obviously find the device a bit roomier, but you can experiment with different foot placements.
The best budget foot massager
At just $60, the NekTeck offers a heat function with a deep, thorough kneading massage for stiff feet.
Pros: Deep kneading, gentle heat therapy, can be used to massage other parts of the body
Cons: No air compression, one mode and intensity, may have difficulty reaching high arches, only massages bottom of feet
If you’re looking for a Shiatsu-style massage machine but don’t want to spend too much money, the NekTeck Foot Massager offers heat therapy and an intense kneading massage for about half the price of the RENPHO and similar machines.
Instead of fully encasing your feet, this machine cradles from the bottom. With a smooth surface, it’s easy to move your feet around as needed to target the spots that ache, but it requires more finagling to knead out, say, achy arches. The machine’s height can also be adjusted for your ergonomic comfort, and, like the RENPHO, it can be easily turned on and off with your toes.
Since it’s essentially a flat panel, the NekTeck fits a range of foot sizes and is actually a pretty versatile device, in that it can be used on virtually any part of the body — try placing it under sore calves or thighs for some relief.
The kneading massage only has one mode and intensity, but sensitive users can wrap their feet in socks or a towel to soften the sensation. Like the RENPHO, the device may take 10 minutes to fully heat up.
The one major downside to this device is that it only makes contact with the soles of your feet. If your ankles are a particularly painful spot, the NekTeck may not be able to help you much.
Pros: Affordable, convenient, effective, doesn’t require charging or battery
Cons: Doesn’t penetrate as deeply as some other devices
This simple wooden device is a great tool for working out tight, painful spots due to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, or overworked muscles, tendons, or tissue.
Devices like the Theraflow Dual Foot Massager work by applying pressure to the trigger points where pain and tension are held with its pointy nubs, according to Dr. Walding.
While you might think electric and expensive machines would be better, many people actually report this simple version provides more relief to their aching feet thanks to its pinpointing of trigger points and ability to manually control the pressure. It’s also lightweight and small, so you can move it around the house easily and massage your feet under your WFH desk.
Note that those seeking a very intense, deep massage might need something spikier and/or electric-powered. It definitely doesn’t offer the total, at-home spa experience that Shiatsu-style machines do with their humanlike kneading, but if you’re just hoping to manage chronic aches and pains, the Theraflow will likely do the trick.
Compression has long been used as a key treatment for everything from sports-related inflammation to total-body swelling from activities like extended standing or air travel. Sometimes, that simply looks like wrapping the limb in an ace bandage.
But air compression devices “can help squeeze the swelling back up to the heart or lymphatic system, which then helps relieve the symptoms associated with edema, or swelling,” Ashley Lee, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist in Illinois, told Insider.
Of all the foot and leg compression devices online, the FIT KING takes the title for fan favorite — as demonstrated by its nearly 10,000 positive reviews. It is essentially an inflating sleeve that wraps around your foot and calf and is secured with Velcro. It then inflates with air and provides comfortable compression.
Beret Loncar, a NYC-based massage therapist whose practice specializes in massage for medical problems, says a device like the FIT KING can minimize muscle contraction and potentially help move lymphatic fluid through the body, thereby reducing swelling by rhythmically applying small amounts of pressure. This kind of gentle pressure has been demonstrated to help with pain and swelling symptoms caused by fibromyalgia.
That being said, if your swelling is related to a medical condition, diagnosed or not, you should consult with a doctor before buying this or any other medical device. Compression isn’t right for all swelling.
The FIT KING comes with a remote control to adjust between two modes — sequence mode, in which pressure moves up and down the foot and leg, and circulation mode, wherein the pressure is applied everywhere at the same time — and three levels of intensity. It automatically shuts off after 20 minutes.
It’s important to note that compression boots are an entirely different kind of device than, for instance, a Shiatsu machine, so don’t expect a similar experience. These work primarily at the surface of the skin, rather than targeting deep muscle spots like the other products on this list. If swelling isn’t your primary concern, or you want more intense massage options, these boots aren’t for you.
The best foot massager to take on-the-go
Recoup Cryosphere is a manual roller that stays cold for up to six hours to help relieve pain.
Loncar suggests using a device that ices your muscles and massages them at the same time, and she, as well as thousands of positive reviews, stand behind the Recoup Cryosphere. Icing helps to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation, Kenneth Jung, MD, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles pointed out during medical review.
You can detach the metal ball and throw it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then put it back into its plastic casing for a comfortable handhold. The ball will stay cold for up to six hours and how you use it is up to you — you can sit in a chair while rolling it under your foot or hold it in your hand to really target tight spots.
Being manual, it obviously doesn’t require charging or battery changes. And because it stays cold for so long, it’ll still provide cool relief even after sitting in your gym bag for a while. At $50, it’s not cheap for a non-electronic device, but users swear that its large size, temperature retainment, and ease of use make it genuinely superior to knock-offs.
While the Cryosphere works great as a foot massager, the device is actually designed for full-body use. If you’re an athlete, work an active job, or otherwise deal with muscle soreness in other parts of your body, this versatile roller provides even more bang for your buck.
The best total-body foot massager
The Hyperice Hypervolt is a powerful massage gun that can provide relief for not just sore feet, but also sore muscles anywhere on the body, making it a great investment for active people.
Pros: Powerful, long battery life, versatile use, comes with five head attachments. TSA-approved for travel
If it’s not just your feet but also other muscles that are regularly sore, like for athletes or folks with physical jobs, a versatile, total-body massager may be the smartest investment. Podiatrist Ashley Lee, DPM, and physical therapist Chad Walding, DPT, both recommend a massage gun for relieving sore muscles and agree the device can be used on the bottom of your feet as well.
Walding prefers the top-of-the-line Theragun, but Lee backs the Hyperice Hypervolt, which I’ve been using for two years and also love. For $350, it has the power of expensive massage guns without the nearly double price of a Theragun.
Hyperice’s Hypervolt provides a deep, percussive massage with three speeds reaching a max of 3200 percussions per minute, which is as powerful as most people will need to feel relief.
It’s quiet for a massage gun, and has a ridiculously long battery life — Lee says she can go months without charging hers. It comes with five head attachments and, in my extensive testing of the device, the bullet and fork are ideal for a bottom-of-the-foot massage. My partner is a chef and therefore on his feet all day and night, and he regularly uses our Hypervolt to soothe his sore feet.
As a recreational athlete, I’ve found the Hypervolt has paid for itself in soreness relief, everywhere from my feet after long training days to my glutes and quads. Lee recommends using massage guns like the Hypervolt before an intense activity to loosen and warm up muscles, which can help you feel less sore, as well as after to minimize stiffness.
One note: Lee advises not to use massage guns on bony areas to avoid pain, so skip the top of your foot and stick to the bottom and sides. –Ariana DiValentino and Rachael Schultz, Insider Reviews health and fitness editor
This manual massage ball is another of Dr. Walding’s top choices. The lacrosse-style ball really gets in there — it’s meant to mimic the pressure of a massage therapist’s elbow. If you suffer from sore arches or pain with your plantar fascia tendon, put this ball under your foot and let your bodyweight work with the targeted pressure to provide relief. For some, this is really the heart of what they need a foot massager for, and the $20 price tag is a true gift.
However, the ball is a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to foot pain — if your feet are also sore at the Achilles tendon, ankle, or top of your foot, it’s hard to nail targeted relief with this device.
That being said, this massage ball is intended to be used anywhere on your body to provide trigger point relief, so you can place it between your shoulder blade and a wall to roll out tight spots in your back, or between your calf and the floor to roll out tight muscles that may be contributing to foot pain. –Ariana DiValentino and Rachael Schultz, Insider Reviews health and fitness editor
How we chose which foot massagers were best
I spoke with a physical therapist (DPT), podiatrist (DPM), and a licensed massage therapist about their general advice on buying foot massage devices, which types work best for various issues, and what customers should look for and avoid. I also read through editorial reviews and customer reviews to compare similar products and determine which devices are most loved by users.
We evaluated items based on:
Ease and comfort of use
Value for price
Usefulness in treating specific symptoms (pain, swelling, poor circulation, etc.)
What to consider when buying a foot massager
First and foremost, if you have a medical condition that causes your foot pain or limits your circulation, talk to your doctor before using any device on this list.
If you’ve been given the green light, your best bet is to look for a massage device that’s able to treat your specific issues, like plantar fasciitis, circulation problems, general aches, or swelling due to a job that keeps you on your feet all day.
Loncar advises those with poor circulation in their feet, due to diabetes or other causes, to look for machines that vibrate or for water massagers. Both of these will help stimulate blood flow and sensitivity. She does warn, however, that those with limited sensation in the skin should steer clear of anything that applies deep pressure or kneading in order to avoid unintentionally hurting themselves.
“The concern for diabetics is sometimes they lose sensation in the limbs, or have neuropathy,” Loncar said. “If you cannot tell how deep or strong the pressure is then you risk injury to the skin and foot. It is better to stick to gentle massages that pose the limited risk of being too aggressive.”
If this is you, Loncar advises erring on the side of caution by skipping anything percussive or kneading, including targeted massage guns and Shiatsu-style machines. Dr. Jung adds that neuropathic patients must also be careful with cold or heat because their protective sensations are weakened, so they could get thermal injuries or burns.
If your primary symptom is pain, Loncar suggests trying something with a cold element, like devices that incorporate ice packs. If you’re an athlete or otherwise very active, you probably already know that icing your feet after a long day can provide some relief. A combo cooling-massage device rolls both treatments into one.
If swelling is your biggest concern, she suggests devices that utilize compression. These focus on the lymphatic system and work to push fluid back toward the heart and out of your feet and ankles. Dr. Jung adds that sequential compression works to mimic your natural muscle contractions, which helps mobilize fluid that’s accumulated in the soft tissues.
If you’re having recurring pain, talk to your doctor about it. They can help identify what might be causing it, and what kind of massage treatment is best for you.
Additionally, Dr. Walding recommends looking for foot massagers with a rounded surface, as these provide the best support for muscles and tendons.
What else we considered
Theragun series ($299 – $599): If you’re willing and able to shell out a few hundred dollars (or more), the Theragun line of products is versatile, offering a percussive massage to any part of your body that needs it, feet included. These massage guns can get seriously intense, and are a favorite of professionals, including Dr. Walding.
Theraband Foot Roller ($13.50): Dr. Lee recommends this foot roller for multitasking — if you don’t have time to sit down and roll your feet out on lacrosse balls, this roller is great for stretching tendons while sitting in front of your computer. Try freezing it for extra pain relief.
Med Massager Foot Massager ($299): Designed as a therapeutic device, the Med Massager offers oscillating movement at a whopping 11 different speeds. Massage therapist Loncar likes this for people with circulation issues, such as those with diabetes, because of its stimulating vibrations.
HoMedics Shower Bliss Foot Spa ($66): According to Loncar, water massagers can provide gentle circulatory stimulation for those who need it. This model was Loncar’s top pick, and we like it because it combines the soothing action of bubbles, jets, and massaging nodes that work the soles of your feet.
Do foot massagers work?
Foot massagers are useful for relieving pain from a variety of causes by relaxing muscle and tendon tension and loosening the fascia (the soft tissue that surrounds muscle) and the plantar fascia (a large ligament in the arch of the foot), according to Dr. Lee.
They also help restore mobility lost thanks to walking on flat surfaces like pavement in cushioned shoes, says physical therapist Chad Walding, DPT. This everyday activity “ultimately puts our feet and ankles in a cast that further leads us to lose a range of motion, leaving us to get weak in certain areas.”
“When everything [that we walk on] is nice and even, we lose that general functionality,” he explained, referring to the foot’s full range of motion. “Having a foot massager will help break up restrictions within the foot (such as tight ligaments).”
For that reason, foot massagers can be particularly helpful to those with balance problems or frequent falls by improving the foot’s range of motion and general dexterity.
Even if you’re not experiencing specific foot problems, Dr. Walding says massage can be good for “general body hygiene” to counteract the effects of everyday walking.
How often should I use a foot massager?
It’s safe to use a foot massager daily, confirms Dr. Jung. However, you should take care to not use it too intensely, too often. You should never use them to the point where they cause muscle or ligament soreness or pain, and if you feel any tenderness in your soft tissue, give it time to recover and lessen your intensity and time next time.
How do I clean a foot massager?
How to clean a foot massager depends largely on the device. Most ideal is if the foot massager has a removable lining like our top overall pick, the RENPHO, which has a detachable cloth cover you can throw into the washing machine.
If it doesn’t have a removable lining, most plastic or wood machines, like our top budget pick and chronic pain pick, can be wiped down with an anti-bacterial wipe, or, for cloth machines, a damp rag and soapy water.
Which is better: manual or electric?
Manual devices, like rollers and massage balls, can help release tension in the tissue surrounding the muscles. The very common myofascial pain, caused by repetitive activities or lack of activity at all, usually centers on a trigger point — a “knot” that you can feel under the surface. A manual roller or ball can help knead that out.
If you’re looking for more intense treatment for overall tension relief, electronic devices are the way to go, Lee says. Some also provide some air compression, which can help mitigate swelling.
If your primary reason for wanting a foot massager is just for some pleasant self-pampering, an electric massager is probably ideal since it does all the work for you. Most of the mechanized devices you’ll come across offer a Shiatsu-style massage, meaning it uses nodes to simulate the feeling of human hands pressing and kneading that you’d experience in the traditional Japanese practice of Shiatsu, which translates to “finger pressure.”
Are foot massagers safe?
If your foot pain is accompanied by severe swelling, you might want to hold off on anything with strong pressure or kneading. Those with edema or an acute injury may not benefit from deep and forceful massage; instead, it might just cause discomfort in sensitive areas.
“In general, if a part of your foot is super inflamed, then you are not ready for a massage yet,” says Walding.
Lee also advises avoiding massaging any painful areas, particularly “bony prominences,” or places where the bone is close to the skin’s surface.
If your foot pain is related to any specific diagnoses, always check with your doctor prior to any treatment. And of course, any recurring, unexplained pain should be brought to your practitioner’s attention to rule out underlying causes.
We tracked down what foot massagers doctors recommend, along with physical therapists and massage therapists. To do this, we spoke with:
Chad Walding, DPT, physical therapist and co-founder of Glendale, CA-based wellness brand NativePath
Beret Loncar, a licensed massage therapist and the owner of New York City clinic Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage Therapy, which specializes in massage therapy for medical problems. She is also a RRCA certified running coach, certified yoga therapist, and personal trainer.
Exercise balls might seem like a boring piece of workout equipment that sits in the corner of the gym with no one using it. But that’s only because it’s an overlooked dark horse – the benefits of adding one to your workout far outweigh any perceived dullness. In fact, as a part of a home gym setup, an exercise ball has the ability to greatly improve one’s core strength while also helping hone balance and flexibility.
Whether it accompanies a daily workout routine or becomes the central focal point, an exercise ball can be an important part of anyone’s plan to keep fit and healthy. (For what it’s worth, while many used to think using an exercise ball in lieu of your home office chair was better for your spine, experts actually recommend against it now.)
To find the best exercise balls worth using, I tested an assortment of models from brands like TheraBand, DynaPro, and Wacces. The goal was to find those that fit a variety of use cases, like being portable or constructed of a thicker material that increases its durability. After spending the last several months using exercise balls as both my office chair and main workout partner, I narrowed the list down to my four favorites listed below.
Pros: Maintains its shape and holds air better than other exercise balls, includes a slow deflate technology if the ball is punctured, extremely firm, has a good surface for just the right amount of grip, offered in four sizes
Cons: Takes a long time to inflate, no inflation pump included, only one color per size
One common complaint among exercise ball fans is the inability of the ball to hold air over time. As air leaks out of the ball, it loses its firmness and becomes difficult to use. The TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball, though, is one of the thickest-walled balls you can buy, and it holds air longer than most of the competition.
Even if it’s punctured, the ball will deflate very slowly, allowing you to finish your workout. Because the Theraband Exercise Ball retains air so well, you won’t have to reinflate it that often, which is a very good thing because this ball does take quite a bit of time to inflate in the first place.
The exercise ball is available in four sizes from 45 cm to 75 cm and it comes in a few colors.
The best portable exercise ball
The DynaPro Exercise Ball is extremely durable and will hold its air pressure nicely, but it’s also portable, thanks to its easy-to-carry hand pump.
Pros: Good price point, easy to fill while on the go because of an included hand pump, very durable material in the ball, prevents fast leaks when it suffers a puncture, available in four sizes and four different colors
Cons: Cannot fully inflate the ball the first time you use it, firmness level of the ball seems below average
When you’re looking for an exercise ball you can take with you anywhere, the DynaPro Exercise Ball is a good idea. It ships with a hand pump and inflates faster than many other balls, so you can be ready to use it within several minutes.
The ball is available in four sizes, ranging from 45 cm to 75 cm, and it features slight ribs around the circumference of the ball to ensure a steady grip. You can get it in a few fun colors, including pink, blue, silver, gray, and black.
Like many exercise balls, you can also use it for active seating in your office. Unlike most exercise balls, it’s available in gray or black, which fits in better with an office setting than a brightly colored ball.
This is a tough, durable exercise ball, featuring a 2,000-pound burst rating. The ball also slowly deflates if it ever suffers a puncture, allowing you to finish your workout safely.
However, the ball cannot be inflated fully the first time you use it. You’ll have to inflate it fully after it’s had 2-3 days to stretch out.
Pros: Excellent price point, durable and tough exercise ball that can withstand 2,200 pounds of weight, available in as large as 95 cm diameter, five color and five size options, includes a large library of online exercise guides
Cons: There is no 45 cm diameter size option in this model, difficult to fully inflate this ball
We’re not here to say what an average-sized body is or who is bigger-than-average. But if you’ve ever sat on an exercise ball before and felt like it couldn’t support your height, width, weight, or frame for whatever reason, you need a ball that is bigger and more durable so you aren’t worrying about it popping or slipping out from under you.
In fact, you want your exercise ball to correspond to your size for a few reasons: When you’re sitting on it, you want it to be durable enough to hold your weight and wide enough to hold your buttocks. When you put it underfoot in plank or, say, Bulgarian split squats, the height of the ball influences your form; too small of a ball and your feet are below your hips which can compromise the integrity of your movements, for example.
Because of this, a ball that’s right for someone who’s 5’3 isn’t going to fit someone who’s 6’8, and someone who is 350lbs needs a more durable construction than someone who is 150lbs. (Learn more about What to look for in an exercise ball.)
The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball is one of the few options that comes in five sizes ranging from 55 cm to 95 cm. You can also choose between five colors, including blue, green, gray, purple, and silver.
What’s more, it can hold up to 2,200 pounds of pressure. So while we doubt you’ll ever max out its capabilities, the Live Infinitely Exercise Ball allows you to feel comfortable and secure putting all your weight and force onto it, regardless of your size.
Pros: Extremely low price point, good build quality versus similarly priced exercise balls, surface has just enough grip to prevent slippage, ribs around circumference of ball provide extra grip, offered in eight colors
Cons: Only available in three sizes, difficult to fully inflate it first time you use it, doesn’t hold air pressure as well as some models
With some low-priced exercise balls, you may feel wary about placing your full weight on them for fear of an exploding ball that leaves you crashing onto the floor. But the durability of the Wacces Fitness and Exercise Ball gives you the peace of mind you’ll need to use this inexpensive ball to its fullest.
Even though it’s less expensive than other options, this ball is still quite durable and has a good grippy surface. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t support as much weight as more high-end exercise balls.
You can pick between three different sizes, ranging from 55 cm to 75 cm. It’s also available in eight colors, including black, blue, gray, green, pink, purple, red, or yellow.
What to look for in an exercise ball
Yes, an exercise ball is a simple, large round ball that looks like every other exercise ball at first glance. There are still several key differences you can pay attention to when looking to find the right exercise ball to meet your needs.
Ease of adding air: Some exercise balls include an air pump, however, most of these pumps work very slowly. If you want a faster option, you should be able to use almost any type of pump to inflate your exercise ball, such as an air mattress pump, a bicycle tire pump, or even an air compressor. To determine when the ball is properly filled with air, measure its diameter.
Extras: Depending on the model of exercise ball you pick, you may find the ball ships with an air pump, exercise bands, a stability ring, stability legs, a measuring tape, an exercise tip guide, or handles built into the ball.
Size: The size of a stability ball is determined by its diameter. Common sizes of exercise balls range from 45 cm to 85 cm in 10 cm intervals. (Ten centimeters is roughly 4 inches.) People shorter than 5 feet will have the best results with sitting on a 45 cm ball, 6-feet-tall people will want a 65 cm ball, and those 6-foot-8 and taller will want an 85 cm ball.
Supported weight: Exercise balls should offer supported weight limits for static weight and body weight. Static weight refers to the weight the ball supports without bursting when the user is not moving. Bodyweight refers to the weight it can support when the user is exercising. High-end balls may support static weight limits of 2,200 pounds and body weights of 500 pounds. A stability ball placed under too much weight or stress could burst.
Exercise ball benefits
People use an exercise ball for two main reasons: to workout with and to sit on. While we fully support using this accessory in your workout, most chiropractors and physical therapists actually recommend you don’t trade your office chair for a ball. Studies have found it not only makes prolonged sitting more uncomfortable, but it doesn’t actually activate your muscles better and may in fact contribute to spinal shrinkage (aka slumping). This is all because you must keep your core engaged for optimal spinal alignment, and it’s incredibly hard to maintain perfect posture when sitting for a long time.
That being said, an exercise ball is safe and a great challenge to your body during a workout, where you’re only stabilizing against it for a few minutes at a time. Here are some of the primary benefits exercise balls provide during a workout:
Improved balance: You’ll naturally strengthen your abs and back muscles while using an exercise ball because you must subtly shift your weight to remain balanced. As these muscles strengthen, your overall balance improves.
Core strength: Athletes constantly talk about the importance of having core strength in the body, as it gives you great balance and coordination. Using an exercise ball increases core strength.
Muscle work: Because you have to continually adjust your weight slightly to maintain your balance on the ball, you’ll be using different muscle groups, which benefits your whole body.
Rehabilitation and flexibility: You’ll stretch muscles and joints while moving around. Physical therapists sometimes assign a set of exercises using an exercise ball for people to follow as part of rehabilitating a specific joint or muscle group to gain more range of motion.
Why exercise balls are an important part of a home gym
Despite their inherent value, exercise balls aren’t typically the first piece of gear you think of when piecing together a home gym. The truth is in the application, as they work for a host of exercises requiring flexible support. Even though an exercise ball is round, it gives you a base that’s more solid than you might think and provides impressive stability.
The balls compress when weight is put on them to create a flatter, more stable edge. It won’t be as stable as a normal chair but it’s far more solid than you’d expect — which is what makes them great for everything from active seating to working out.
An exercise ball is an amazing addition to any ab workout, as you can hold it between your feet to bump the challenge of leg raises or prop your feet on the ball during plank for more of a core challenge. You can also sit on the ball instead of a bench to activate your core during simple exercises like chest flys and overhead presses. (Learn more from our guide on the best at-home exercise ball routines.)
The right cycling shoe can mean the difference between a great ride and terrible foot pain.
I tested 11 pairs and consulted a SoulCycle instructor and a podiatrist to find the best spin shoes.
Our top pick, the Giro Cadets, deliver superior breathability, support, and comfort.
Whether you’re the proud owner of a new Peloton or you’re tired of sweating in rental shoes at a studio, a great pair of cycling shoes is an integral part of enjoying your spin class and getting a great workout. The wrong pair of shoes could lead to cramping, discomfort, or blistering, and the best cycling shoe is the one you don’t have to think about at all.
But the cycling shoe market is broad, and Olympic road cyclists, mountain bikers, and SoulCycle lovers all have different needs. This means there’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all spin shoe designed to tackle it all.
For help narrowing down what to look for, I consulted with two experts: NASM-certified personal trainer and spin instructor, Nicky Swierszcz, who spoke on fit, sizing, cleat styles, and shoe designs, and, Dr. Ryan Minara, D.P.M., Chief of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and former Podiatry Captain for the New York City Triathlon.
My actual testing comprised 11 separate pairs of cycling shoes worn over hundreds of miles worth of spin classes. The intent was to find a pair capable of providing the most supportive and comfortable ride in both an at-home and in-studio spin setting. My top picks balance value and comfort to ensure you get the most out of your workout.
A note on gendered shoes
Athletic shoes tend to be gendered not because of style but because of slight differences in the typical morphologies of male and female feet. Male feet tend to be slightly wider in both the toes and the heel, but according to Dr. Minara, this may not be true across the board. He stressed the importance of trying any athletic shoe on – regardless of whether or not it’s designed for men or women – before you use it in order to ensure you’re getting the right fit for your foot shape and size.
Several of the shoes we recommend come in both men’s and women’s sizing, but individual comfort and fit matter much more than the gendered label on the shoe.
After consulting Swierszcz about what criteria to look for in a well-made cycling shoe and top brands on the market, I narrowed my picks down to several pairs of shoes in a variety of styles. I received samples from the brands and tested 11 pairs of cycling shoes at low- to mid-range price points that still offered the durability and high-quality construction of a good cycling shoe. I wanted to test the difference between BOA closures and Velcro, and I threw in one that laced up for good measure.
Here’s everything I considered while testing:
Value: Cycling shoes come in a wide range of budgets, and serious road cyclists may spend upwards of $500 on a pair of shoes made from top-of-the-line materials that can give them a competitive edge on the bike. But if you’re only clipping in to ride a stationary bike in a spin studio or at home, there’s no need to drop so much cash.
I limited my selections to shoes that cost, at most, $200. Swierszcz said to expect to spend at least $100 on a pair of cycling shoes. Shoes below that price point will start to suffer in the quality of materials used to construct the shoe.
Ride test: I wore each pair of shoes for at least three 45-minute spin classes — a combination of pre-pandemic in-studio classes and rides on my SoulCycle at-home bike — to test for fit and comfort. My top picks were worn for several more rides to test beyond the break-in process. Throughout my rides, I took mental notes of any hot spots or discomfort I felt with each shoe. The best shoes were ones I didn’t have to pay attention to at all. Getting lost in my ride — and not worrying about foot pain — was the best marker of a good shoe.
I also noted how easy they were to take on and off and how easily I was able to walk around in them off the bike.
My top picks are the shoes that best balanced quality, comfort, and value.
Long-term testing: We acknowledge that issues may crop up with long-term use, and we want to test these shoes for their longevity and ultimate value for your investment. We are continuing to test each of our top picks, and we will update this guide with any issues we encounter.
The best spin shoes overall with BOA
The Giro Cadet cycling shoe comfortably cradles your foot as you ride thanks to the combination of a BOA closure and comfortable ankle padding that doesn’t make the shoe feel bulky.
Pro: BOA closure tightens uniformly, Velcro straps stops toe shifting, nice padding around ankle, split tongue, breathable, very lightweight
Cons: Slippery when walking around off the bike, runs slightly small
After testing 11 pairs of cycling shoes, you might think they’d all start to blend together, but the Giro Cadet shoe very quickly set itself apart. The BOA closure allows for uniform tightening across the shoe which led to an exemplary feeling of security, and the added Velcro strap ensured that my toes didn’t shift back and forth as I rode.
It’s the shoe I favored for personal use, so it’s also the pair I clocked the most miles with. There’s no considerable break-in process, so I was able to have productive rides right out of the gate, and the shoe has done nothing but get more comfortable over time. Where lesser shoes caused pinching, hotspots, and occasional numbness, I was able to all but forget about the Cadets and get lost in my ride — a surprisingly tough metric for some of these shoes to hit.
I have a high instep, so where other shoes would cut into the front of my ankle, the Cadet compensated for it with a flexible tongue that has a slit cut down the middle of it to account for the tendons that flex in that area as you ride.
The Cadets are lightweight and breathable and have enough padding in the ankle to keep you comfortable without adding considerable bulk to the shoe. I did find that the Cadets ran about a half-size small, so size up if you’re between sizes.
Giro Cadet Men’s:
Cadet (Men’s) (button)
Giro Cadet Women’s:
The best spin shoes overall with Velcro
Engineered specifically for a high-heat, high-humidity spin class setting, the Pearl Izumi Quest Studio shoe is exceptionally breathable and sweat-wicking.
Pros: Developed for studio use, antimicrobial mesh upper stays breathable, familiar fit for SoulCycle riders, three Velcro straps make shoe highly adjustable, good grip when walking around off the bike
Cons: No split tongue, long Velcro straps may hang over side of shoe slightly, runs small
If you’re a frequent SoulCycle rider, the fit of the Pearl Izumi Quest Studio will likely feel quite familiar. The cult-favorite spin studio pairs with Pearl Izumi to create the rental shoe you’ve likely used many times. While the Quest Studio isn’t exactly the same, it’s similar enough that when I first slipped my feet into them, I recognized it immediately. SoulCycle fans making the first leap to their own pair of shoes might want to choose this one for the familiarity alone.
Aside from a familiar fit, the Quest Studio still stands out as a great shoe on its own. Many cycling shoes that spin class enthusiasts opt for were originally developed for road cycling, but the Quest Studio — as its name suggests — was developed specifically for a studio setting. Increased breathability and sweat-wicking take the fore to compensate for a hot, sweaty indoor environment thanks to an antimicrobial mesh upper.
Three Velcro straps make for a highly adjustable shoe with plenty of room for those who may need to keep one section looser to adjust for wide feet or a high instep. I did find the straps were pretty long, so if you’re tightening them all the way, there might be some overhang, but nothing that gets in the way of your ride.
My one complaint is that many cycling shoes have a notch in the top of the tongue to account for the tendons at the front of your ankle, and the Quest Studio is missing that. If you’re sensitive to pressure in that area, it might cause some discomfort. I found myself noticing it a bit during sprints.
Pearl Izumi Quest Studio Men’s:
Quest Studio Shoe (Men’s) (button)
Pearl Izumi Quest Studio Women’s:
The best budget spin shoes with BOA
A BOA closure automatically ups the cost of a cycling shoe, but the Specialized Torch 1.0 manages to keep it affordable without compromising on quality or comfort.
Pros: More affordable than a typical BOA shoe, added padding under tongue, fits true to size, lightweight, comes in bold colors
Cons: Velcro strap at toes is thin, no specialized women’s/men’s fits, compatible with Look Delta cleats only
Where many cycling shoes limit their color palettes to black and white with the occasional pop of color, the Torch 1.0 shoes from Specialized go bold with offerings of neon red, green, and blue. Of course, you can still get a black or white pair if you want to keep it simple, but those bold colors — along with the very friendly price point for a shoe with these features — were what first attracted me to this pair.
The shoes back up some flashy presentation with a very similar closure style to the Giro Cadets. A BOA closure gives you excellent uniform support, while a Velcro strap towards the toes aims to prevent toe shift. The Velcro strip on the Torch 1.0s isn’t as robust as the one on the Cadets, so I’m not sure it does a ton of work, but it does add some peace of mind.
A unique feature of the Torch 1.0s is some additional padding under the tongue, which gives you a bit more comfort on the upstroke as you pedal. It’s nothing that affects the fit of the shoe too drastically, and it doesn’t add any bulk, but it’s a nice touch on a part of the shoe that is often neglected.
Though Specialized sees the Torch 1.0 as a beginner road cycling shoe, it checked all my boxes for a great shoe for spin class — supportive fit with no pain points or hot spots, great ventilation, and my mind wasn’t on my feet while I rode.
The main shortcoming here is that Specialized doesn’t offer a specific men’s or women’s fit, so if the construction of the shoe doesn’t work for your foot’s anatomy, there’s no alternative fit to try. The Torch 1.0s are also the only shoe we recommend that isn’t compatible with SPD cleats, though we recommend Look Deltas for spinning anyway.
The best budget spin shoes with Velcro
The Shimano RP1 is outstandingly comfortable with an upper that’s plusher than many other cycling shoes, but with only two Velcro straps, the fit isn’t quite as adjustable as other pairs.
Pros: Excellent padding makes for a comfortable ride, fits true to size, good grip when walking around off the bike
Cons: Only two Velcro straps, no specialized women’s fit
Many cycling shoes are incredibly streamlined for increased aerodynamics and therefore aren’t always the cushiest. A few of the shoes I tried had so little padding that it affected my ride in a negative way, but the Shimano RP1 shoe has plenty of padding — probably more than a road racer would want. But their loss is the spinner’s gain. The RP1 really cradles the foot for a comfortable ride.
It’s also the most budget-friendly shoe I tested, but it’s still constructed from excellent materials including nylon mesh panels for breathability and a ventilated glass-fiber-infused sole. Shimano is also one of the most trusted players in the cycling market, producing cycling gear for a century and cycling shoes in particular since the ’80s.
The concession you’ll have to make with this shoe lies mainly in adjustability. The shoe’s closure consists of only two Velcro straps, and the top one does the bulk of the work. I found this shoe felt less secure around the middle part of my foot unless I really tightened the top strap. In doing that, I found it created some hot spots in my instep if I overtightened. With some practice, I was able to find the sweet spot for a comfortable ride, but you simply won’t get the same custom fit of a three-strap shoe.
The RP1 also only comes in a men’s fit. I didn’t notice any major differences in how the RP1 fit me when compared to a women’s engineered shoe, but it does have a bit of a wider toe box than a women’s fit. Regardless of your gender, this is going to be a great option for those with wider feet.
What else I tested
Giro Trans BOA ($160): The Giro Trans BOA was this close to being the best overall BOA cycling shoe in this guide. It’s got excellent support thanks to the BOA/Velcro closure combo, is breathable thanks to mesh ventilation panels, and I think it just looks cool.
But Giro is slowly phasing it out in favor of new models. It’s also only available in a men’s fit starting at a size 39, so those with smaller feel could be out of luck. The Trans BOA only supports Look Delta cleats, while the Cadet supports both Look Delta and SPD, so the Cadet is the more versatile shoe all around.
Tomasso Pista ($125): The draw of the Tomasso Pista is that cleats come included and pre-installed on the shoe, which is great for beginners. But recently, the price jumped up by nearly $40. It was previously available for around $85, which would have made it a great budget buy.
The quality of the shoe itself is lesser than some of the other equivalently-priced models I tested, and the fit felt bulky in a way that other shoes didn’t, so it’s just not worth it at the increased price.
Giro Empire E70 W Knit ($160): I was first intrigued by this shoe because it had laces — a rarity in the cycling shoe market. And those laces ended up being its downfall, not because they performed poorly but because I was constantly worried they would get caught in my pedals or come untied during my ride. They never did, but the stress wasn’t worth it.
I did appreciate how lightweight these shoes were, though, and the breathability provided by the knit upper was top-notch.
Fizik Tempo Powerstrap R5 ($120): The Velcro closures on this shoe are unique in that the bottom one crisscrosses the shoe to pull it tight in a more uniform way than a strap that merely crosses over the top. But the upper was much stiffer than other shoes I tested and lacked the padding around the ankle I had hoped for. The lack of flex led to cramping for me. I had high hopes for the unique design, but was ultimately disappointed.
Shimano RP4 ($94): The Shimano RP4 takes a unique approach with its BOA closure. Instead of having the wire tighten the whole shoe, it pulls a wide strap over the instep closed. I had a problem with how far up the strap came on the shoe, causing it to dig into my ankle and make for a very uncomfortable ride. I think a BOA closure is better suited to securing the shoe itself rather than a single strap.
Giro Techne ($100): The Techne is Giro’s version of the classic three-strap Velcro cycling shoe. The fit and the ventilation were pretty baseline, but the three straps created a lot of bulk on the shoe that made it feel more unwieldy. Pulling the straps tight led to a lot of overhang. While none of this affected the ride, the shoe was simply beaten by better performers in the space.
Pearl Izumi Select Road v5 ($82.50): This was another shoe I really liked that fell victim to being phased out by the retailer. Another offering from Pearl Izumi, it felt very similar to the SoulCycle rental shoe I’d grown accustomed to. But at this point, it’s only available in very limited sizes. If you can snag it in your size on sale, it’ll be a great budget buy.
How should a spin shoe fit?
Both Swierszcz and Dr. Minara repeatedly emphasized that the most important fit factor in choosing your cycling shoes is an adequate feeling of support for your entire foot. You want the shoe to fit snugly so your foot doesn’t slide back and forth as you pedal. Friction from loose shoes can cause blistering and a general feeling of instability on the bike.
A shoe that’s too tight can cause cramping, numbness, or tingling in your foot as you ride. Numbness is the most common problem Dr. Minara sees in cyclists who wear ill-fitting shoes, especially in those who have wide feet. “Many cyclists will also develop a very specific problem called a Morton’s neuroma,” Minara told Insider, “Which is inflammation of a very specific nerve called the common digital nerve.”
Swierszcz often sees riders overtightening their shoes. “It’s a psychological thing,” she said. “People think the tighter their shoe is, the more secure their foot will be and they won’t fall off the bike or whatever their fear might be. You want something that feels supportive and stable but isn’t squeezing your foot. The less you have to think about your feet as you ride the better your experience is going to be.”
As with any shoe, the more you wear a cycling shoe the more it molds to the shape of your foot. Some tightness can be overcome by breaking the shoes in, but don’t continue to ride with a shoe that’s exceedingly uncomfortable or takes away from the quality of your ride.
“Don’t take it for granted if your foot hurts. There’s usually a reason for it, and that reason usually can be addressed,” said Minara. Ignoring pain can lead to prolonged issues both on and off the bike. If you’re having trouble finding a shoe that fits properly, Minara also suggested consulting a podiatrist to discuss a custom orthotic — and bring your cycling shoes with you when you do.
One of the hardest parts of shopping for a cycling shoe is navigating different brands’ sizing charts. Cycling shoes are measured in European sizes, but each brand’s sizing scheme deviates slightly. Some brands also don’t offer half sizes. In that case, Swierszcz recommends sizing down. The best advice we have for ensuring you get the right size is to simply try them on. All the retailers we link to have a buyer-friendly return policy so you can exchange for a new size if necessary. For each of our picks above, we explain how sizing tends to run.
BOA vs. Velcro
A BOA closure employs a ratcheting dial that tightens a stainless steel wire to close your shoe. Twisting the dial clockwise makes the shoe tighter and pulling the dial upward releases the mechanism.
BOA closures have two distinct advantages: speed and uniform tightening. With the simple twist of the dial, your shoe is perfectly tightened and you’re ready to hop on your bike. Releasing the dial allows you to slip the shoe off your foot in one swift motion. In a triathlon, every second counts — just as it does when you’re late to spin class.
All the BOA shoes we recommend in this guide have just one dial, and therefore one wire that’s doing the work of tightening your shoe. That wire adjusts uniformly as you tighten it, meaning your entire shoe will be adjusted proportionally, providing immediate support for your entire foot. This is important for preventing hotspots or pain points. The disadvantage, though, is that you can’t personalize the fit quite as much.
Velcro closures use the same technology you sported on your light-up sneakers as a kid, but that doesn’t belittle their effectiveness. It’s one of the simplest ways to secure a shoe when laces are going to get in the way. A shoe that features multiple Velcro straps also allows for a more personalized fit — simply pull as tightly as you need for each section of your foot to feel supported and secure. Those with higher insteps or wider feet can choose to keep one section of the shoe looser for more breathability or to mitigate uncomfortable tightness. Swierszcz has a wide foot, so she takes advantage of this flexibility. “If I’ve been teaching a lot, I’ll keep the center strap a little bit looser, just so my foot can breathe doesn’t start cramping.”
Look Delta cleats vs. SPD cleats
Almost every top spin bike on the market requires you to clip your shoes into the bike pedals in order to ride — that’s why you’re shopping for special shoes for spin class, after all — but the mechanism by which your shoe attaches to the pedal varies. The piece that clips in is called the cleat, and there are several styles on the market, but the two most prominent ones are SPD cleats and Look Delta cleats.
SPD cleats, or two-bolt cleats, attach to the sole of the shoe at two points. They sit at the center of the ball of your foot and provide a localized point at which the power transfers from your foot to the pedal.
Clipping in and out of the pedals is a bit easier with SPD cleats than Look Deltas and so are favored by mountain bikers and those who ride in traffic who may have to react quickly to changing conditions. SPD cleats are also considerably smaller than Look Delta cleats and are therefore easier to walk around in off the bike.
SPD Cleat Set (small)
Look Delta cleats, or three-bolt cleats, attach to the sole of your shoe at three points in the shape of a triangle. One point reaches toward your toes and two points sit at the ball of your foot. This provides a much larger surface area that attaches your shoe to the pedal creating a most stable base for your foot.
Swierszcz prefers a Look Delta cleat because of the increased support they provide. Because of the larger clip-in mechanism, Look Deltas can be more difficult to clip in and out with, especially for beginners. This leads to a disadvantage if you need to unclip quickly, but in a class setting, you won’t have to worry about accidentally coming out of your pedal and losing your rhythm.
All the shoes we recommend in this guide are compatible with Look Delta cleats — and if you’re just using your shoes for spin class, that’s the type we recommend. Both Peloton and SoulCycle use a Look Delta cleat system as do many smaller spin studios and home bike brands. In fact, Peloton supports only Look Delta cleats unless you were to swap out the pedals entirely for ones with an SPD hookup. Both the At Home and in-studio SoulCycle bikes have dual-sided pedals — one side supports Look Delta cleats and the other supports SPDs, so you can ride with whatever cleat you prefer.
Look Delta Bike Cleats (small)
How to attach Look Delta cleats
Most cycling shoes don’t come with cleats included, so you’ll need to buy them separately and therefore attach them yourself. Look Delta cleats are easy to install — simply screw the three bolts into the bottom of the shoe. The cleats have some vertical allowance so you can position them closer to your toes or closer to the arch of your foot depending on your preference and riding style.
Swierszcz recommends beginners centralize their cleats over the bolt holes and allow them to adjust themselves over time as you ride. “Everybody’s physiology is set up slightly differently. Range of motion and pedal stroke are going to be different from person to person, so start with your cleats in a neutral position and let the repetitive motion break them in over time as you ride.”
That said, you shouldn’t notice too much movement in your cleats from ride to ride. That’s likely a sign that you didn’t tighten the bolts enough. If that happens, reset them to center and make sure to tighten down your cleats a bit more.
Wanting whiter teeth in a world of first impressions and social media needs no explanation. But which at-home teeth whitening kits won’t make your pearlies sensitive after one round – that’s much harder.
In actuality, the most effective way to whiten your teeth is at the dentist’s office; however, that’s expensive and inaccessible for many people. Whitening toothpastes can help with daily maintenance, but they won’t create that ‘wow’ factor. At-home teeth whitening kits can save you money, time, and allow you to regularly re-whiten as needed (aka, as your coffee and red wine habit sees fit). The problem: A lot of whitening kits are too strong, causing your gums to become sensitive to pressure and your teeth sensitive to cold after just one use.
To find the most effective at-home teeth whitening products, including options for sensitive teeth, we asked a handful of dentists what the best teeth whiteners are for a brighter smile ASAP. We took into consideration options for sensitive teeth and gums, folks on a budget, and other buying factors. We tested many of their suggestions, as well as leading brands on the market, and combed through research and ratings. Each of the teeth whitening kits below are effective, easy to use, and less likely to irritate your teeth or gums.
Here are the best teeth whitening kits you can buy:
The gel is contained in strips that you press to mold around your teeth — so much so that Crest says you can even drink water and talk while wearing the strips thanks to their “Advanced Seal Technology.”
This formula typically has a lower concentration (10%) of Hydrogen Peroxide so it’s better for people who have sensitive teeth and can’t tolerate higher levels.
The Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips kit comes with 40 strips for 20 treatments (each treatment consists of a strip on the upper teeth and one on the lower teeth.) You are supposed to wear the strips for 30 minutes, once per day. Crest claims that after the 20 daily treatments, you can remove 14 years of tooth stains.
However, strips don’t offer the custom fit of trays, which means you may notice some increased sensitivity if your gums come in contact with the whitening strips.
The best whitening trays
If you’re looking for more precision in your application to avoid gum sensitivity, your best bet is combining teeth whitening gel with mouth trays or guards like in the Opalescence Go 15% kit.
Pros: Effective, greater control over application, potentially less gum sensitivity
Cons: Expensive, may cause sensitivity
Pack count: 10 treatments
The benefit of using a mouth tray or mouth guard with gel is that, unlike white strips, you aren’t as likely to miss spots on the teeth or irritate your gums.
Opalescence is known for its whitening products in the dental industry. I’ve gotten amazing results with the Opalescence 35% formula, which is a syringe you squirt into your own trays and is slightly more intense. Heather Kunen, DDS, orthodontist and co-owner of Beam Street in New York recommended the Opalescence Go to Insider for how easy and mess-free the process is is to use to get that same high-quality whitening Opalescence is known for.
Dr. Hadaegh also likes this product, adding that the trays adapt to your teeth all the way to your molars. “They have 15% hydrogen peroxide, which means you only need to wear them for 15 to 20 minutes a day for five to 10 days. It also contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help reduce sensitivity while strengthening enamel.”
However, because the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is so high, there’s a chance you may still experience some sensitivity, in which case it’s best to switch to a less concentrated alternative like Crest Whitestrips.
The best for sensitive teeth and gums
Zimba white strips whiten over 7 to 14 days without causing major tooth or gum sensitivity and come in tasty flavors.
Pros: Affordable, no-slip strips
Cons: Only covers front 10 teeth (upper and lower), takes about a week to whiten, whitening doesn’t last
Pack count: 14 treatments
If you’re looking for teeth whitening strips but have had issues with teeth sensitivity in the past, Kunen suggested Zimba white strips. It’s made with a gentle formula that uses a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide.
One box contains 28 stain-removing strips (14 upper, 14 lower) which cover your front 10 teeth on top and 10 on the bottom. The strips stay on pretty well with anti-slip technology and they’re slick, so there’s no gel or goop. Moreover, you can choose between two tasty flavors, coconut or mint.
Zimba says you’ll see whiter teeth in 14 days, and it truly does take at least one week to start seeing any difference. The major downside here is that the whitening doesn’t seem to last long — most reviewers say you have to use the strips regularly to maintain results. But that’s not surprising considering the formula is gentler, and considering these are about as cheap as you can get for an effective whitening kit, these are a great way to whiten before an event without breaking the bank. –Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor
Pros: Few reports of sensitivity issues, more precise application of whitening gel, reusable mouth guard
Cons: Expensive, dentists agree the LED light will not make a noticeable difference
Pack count: 14-28 treatments
The idea of LED teeth whitening kits has mixed reviews: Brands claim the light helps make teeth whitening more effective than traditional whitening strips or trays, but there aren’t any studies to support this claim and many dentists feel like they don’t speed up the process. Patrick Campbell, DDS put it succinctly when speaking with Insider: “Frankly, these products are not worth the money.”
That being said, LED whitening kits are probably as effective as the other options so they’re not a waste of money if you can find a well-priced option. Also, they come with whitening pens that allow you a bit more control in terms of the application so you can avoid your gums and any increased sensitivity, and they usually require you to spend less time per day with the formula on your teeth.
If you want to try an LED whitening kit, SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit is one of the most convenient choices and about the same price as non-LED options.
The direct-to-consumer kit includes a LED mouthguard to act as a catalyst for the hydrogen peroxide whitening formula. It only requires 10 minutes a day of use and comes with nine whitening pens (enough for two full treatments). When I tested the device, I found the company’s estimates to be conservative — I got more than double the use out of the pens than expected, which is a great value for the money.
I loved that the LED device just plugs into your smartphone for power.
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, no added chemicals
Cons: Takes some getting used to, smells weird
Pack count: 40 treatments
Teeth-cleaning sticks known as Miswak have been used for thousands of years in what is now Pakistan, India, many African countries, and other parts of the world. And, a meta-analysis in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that the Miswak was just as effective for oral hygiene as the toothbrush and toothpaste used by Western cultures.
The Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit features two Miswak root sticks with two carrying cases. Each stick will last for three weeks of daily use. Miswak comes from the Arak tree, and this product contains no pesticides or chemicals. Miswak Club offers a 120-day money-back guarantee if you do not have noticeably whiter teeth after using their kit.
It has a sweet musky smell (which some people like and others really don’t) and doesn’t make a mess. Some reviewers have noted that it may take a few weeks of daily use to notice effects and that the smell may be a bit off-putting.
The best for professional-level results
If you want the intenser results of whitening at a dentist’s office, but at home, the Linhart Teeth Whitening Collection uses a formula from cosmetic dentists in New York City.
Pros: Professional-grade results, easy to use
Cons: Expensive, LED has minimal proven advantage
“This whitening system was custom designed by high-end cosmetic dentists in New York City and utilizes the same whitening gel they use in their office on their patients,” Dr. Kunen, who has no affiliation with Linhart, explained.
The kit contains four syringes of 35% carbamide peroxide whitening gel, an LED whitening light to activate the gel, and a milder whitening gel to help maintain your results. It’s a bit pricier than other at-home kits but, as Kunen pointed out, “For those patients looking to replicate a chairside whitening experience, this is closest you will find!” –Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor
What else we considered
What else we recommend
Glowup LED Kit ($35): This direct-to-consumer LED whitening start up will personalize the whitening formula to your level of tooth/gum sensivity and discoloration. The LED light is powered by your phone and requires 16 minutes of use. It only comes with three gel vials and the syringes aren’t the most intuitive to spread on your teeth, so SmileDirectClub is a better choice for most people. But if you have sensitive teeth and want lasting results, Glowup is a great option. (Read our full review here.)
Snow LED Kit ($149): This well-designed LED teeth whitening kit comes with 4 serum pens (no syringes) that are easy to apply precisely to your teeth. All four will last you 75 treatments. The mouthpiece is very comfortable to bite for the suggested 10 minutes and plugs into your phone for power. The kit is quite pricey, but I saw results after two uses, so the included treatments will allow a whole family to whiten regularly for basically all of time.
Opalescence PF 35% Whitening Gel ($45.49): This is a cheaper alternative to the Opalescence Go that Dr. Kunen and Dr. Hadaegh both recommend, delivering the same Carbamide Peroxide formula in a syringe. You’ll need to use your own mouth trays, but we can confirm it delivers whiter teeth after just a few 30-minute sessions.
Lumibrite 32% Whitening Gel($25): Dr. Hadaegh told Insider that Lumibrite causes little to no sensitivity, while also producing excellent whitening results due to its high concentration of Carbamide Peroxide. It does require custom bleaching trays.
Zoom NiteWhite 22% Whitening Gel ($30): NiteWhite is a clinical-grade tooth whitening gel of 22% Carbamide Peroxide. It’s medium strength, so it’s an excellent option for individuals who have some tooth sensitivity but want a whitening gel that’s not too strong or too weak, Hadaegh said.
HiSmile Whitening ($130): If whitening kits have left your teeth or gums sensitive in the past, Kunen suggested this brand which uses Pthalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP) as its principal whitening agent as opposed to the more traditional and harsher peroxides. It’s definitely more expensive than the other options, but it’s also super easy to use.
What we don’t recommend
GLO Teeth Whitening Kit ($150): Glo Science sells a similar device to SmileDirectClub; both use an LED mouthpiece to reportedly act as a catalyst for hydrogen peroxide. But SmileDirectClub is a better value at half the cost. We still recommend strips over gel and mouth trays over LED light options, though.
FAQs about whitening your teeth
What types of teeth whitening products exist?
There are essentially two types of kits: ones that bleach your teeth to take stains off and ones that physically scrape off the stains. Whitening trays and strips have been the standard for decades and generally rely on carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. Activated charcoal powders had a spike in popularity recently, but the dentists we interviewed would tell you to nix the powders. Ira Handschuh, DDS, cosmetic dentist at The Dental Design Center in White Plains, NY and Ania Mohelicki, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Boulder, CO both told Business Insider that they don’t recommend these because they can be abrasive and only remove surface stains.
There is a third type of teeth whitening product that simply blasts your teeth with LED light, which typically claims to speed up the process and achieve more intense results. However, most of the dentists we interviewed agreed that any gains from this treatment are short-lived or nonexistent. “Most studies show some difference detected by computers, but no visual difference detected by the human eye. For the studies conducted in actual patients (in vivo), most found no added benefit for light-activated systems,” Charles Sutera DDS, FAGD, a professional dentist at Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction in Waltham, MA told Insider.
Only the SmileDirectClub system in our guide uses this technology, but it is used in conjunction with a whitening gel and a mouthguard that may offer better control over your placement and avoid increased gum sensitivity in comparison to strips.
Which teeth whitening products are most effective?
“Shopping for teeth whitening products is very simple.” Dr. Sutera explained. “There is only one active ingredient in all teeth whitening products: hydrogen peroxide. It’s the same agent whether it’s prescription use or over the counter. Any other ingredients in the product are inactive fillers needed to create the right consistency of the product.” If you see carbamide peroxide on your ingredient list, it’s just a derivative of hydrogen peroxide.
“The key is to understand that whitening can be effective at any percentage, but what differs is the time of use. A high percentage of hydrogen peroxide typically is only kept on the teeth for 20 minutes maximum, while a lower percentage can be worn for 6 hours or overnight.” Dr. Sutera explains. “Much of the selection comes down to personal preference. If you have a tendency to develop tooth sensitivity or if you want to minimize the risks of irritating your gums, that’s when you’d select a lower concentration.”
A few warnings about teeth whitening kits
Peroxide is effective, but it comes with several warnings. Pregnant or nursing women may want to stop using peroxide-based whitening products. It also isn’t suitable for children under 14 years old. And, you should not use peroxide for longer than two weeks of daily use without the supervision of a dentist.
The FDA does not recommend using any whitening gels with a peroxide concentration of higher than 18%. Two of the kits we recommend use peroxide (Crest Whitestrips and SmileDirectClub) but they should be safe for most people.
Again, you should always consult with your dentist before starting a course of treatment. For instance, if your darkened teeth are due to the natural thinning of tooth enamel that comes with aging, whitening kits will not help you. Also, they cannot whiten fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, or caps.
Most importantly, Dr. Mohelicki says the biggest concern is wearing whitening kits for the right amount of time. “Over-the-counter options are inexpensive when compared to in-office whitening, but they offer no gum protection. With no gum protection, users can experience increased sensitivity and even burns in severe cases.”
How to use teeth whitening kits effectively
Before using a teeth whitening kit, brush your teeth so your whitening agent can make contact with the surface of your teeth to improve efficacy, and so it doesn’t accidentally create an uneven white. “Any buildup of plaque or food debris will not allow for the whitening agent to contact the tooth and therefore not allow the whitening agent to do its job,” Dr. Campbell explained. “You could end up with a speckled, uneven whitened appearance.”
And, after you’ve whitened, try to avoid food and drinks that stain your teeth.”I recommend that my patients stick to a ‘colorless diet’ just after whitening,” Dr. Handschuh told Business Insider. “Meaning, avoid highly-staining food and drink such as coffee, red wine, tea, sauces, etc.” But, if you really want to, he recommends using a straw to bypass your teeth a bit.
As Dr. Sutera explained, whitening your teeth and then having a glass of red wine is like “two people in a canoe paddling in different directions. The whitening products open the pores and clean them out. If you have coffee, tea, or red wine within 72 hours of whitening your teeth, your teeth are more likely to absorb dark stains and adversely impact your whitening results.”
Does teeth-whitening damage your enamel?
“Most studies show that whitening does not damage enamel,” Dr. Sutera said. Though, there has been recent research that shows teeth whitening can affect proteins deeper in the tooth, though researchers are not currently sure if the damage is temporary or permanent, according to Dr. Sutera.
How can you prevent tooth sensitivity?
“It is common for the majority of people to experience increased tooth sensitivity after having teeth whitening done.” Dr. Mohelicki says. “However, for those who already have sensitive teeth, I recommend starting out by trying a whitening toothpaste. This takes significantly longer than trying an over-the-counter product or having teeth bleached in-office, but it can be significantly less painful.”
For whitening toothpaste, Dr. Sutera recommends patients with sensitive teeth use a toothpaste with potassium nitrate and fluoride and also use a fluoride mouth rinse. According to Dr. Sutera, potassium nitrate is the primary ingredient that helps with sensitive teeth, and fluoride a secondary option that has also been shown to help.
If you have sensitive teeth and want to use a teeth whitening agent, you may just want to avoid higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. “The suggestion I would make is to use a lower concentration of whitening agent to get their desired whitening outcome while minimizing the risk of tooth sensitivity.” Dr. Campbell said. “Although anecdotal, I’ve found that brushing with Sensodyne toothpaste before and after whitening has helped me avoid sensitivity.”
Why do you feel increased sensitivity after you whiten?
The bleaching temporarily weakens your enamel so the bleach can pass through it and further lift those stains, explained Dr. Mohelicki. “When [our enamel] is weakened during the bleaching treatment, many patients find that it can be hard to consume hot beverages, ice-cold beverages, or even eat certain foods. This typically wears off within 72 hours of ending treatment.”
For this piece, we consulted a handful of different dentists for multiple perspectives:
Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.
“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.
At their foundation, compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also improves the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.
“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.
Because of those benefits, compression socks have become quite popular recently – and that popularity brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.
The compression socks featured in this guide each went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit, function, durability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into how we tested each pair of compression socks and how it influenced which made this guide:
Fit: A compression sock is far more able to perform its primary function if it fits the wearer properly, both in terms of the actual size as well as how well it stays fitted throughout the day. To test for this, we judged how true-to-size the socks were and also looked at if they avoided sagging when worn for anywhere multiple hours in a row to a full day.
Function: Most compression socks feature a compression rating that indicates how tight (or loose) they are, and their function is tied entirely to these ratings. A wearer’s needs may fluctuate wildly (and are certainly different from person-to-person), so to test this, we looked at how many size options and ratings each brand offered and if they catered to a wide range of needs.
Durability: Compression socks aren’t often cheap per single pair, so it’s important that they’ll last – and for multiple months, at that. This meant stress testing the socks in environments they wouldn’t typically be worn to see how well they held up. If some faltered by sagging easily or tearing, then we knew they’d likely break down far quicker in the long run than we’d like.
Value: Testing the value of a compression sock takes more than just looking at its sticker price. Rather, true value is a combination of the above three categories plus how much it costs. We often think it’s better to spend more on a quality product that lasts as opposed to spending less more often.
The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman competitor, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.
Made of polyamide and nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), CEP’s socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.
The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks also feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens.
These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout.
Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.
The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.
Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.
Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long
Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes
For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.
What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).
These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.
Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors
Cons: Might not be tight enough for everyone’s needs, long drying time
The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.
The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink.
The best compression socks for runners
Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.
Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture
Cons: Can be difficult to put on
Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort.
Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover.
But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).
The Circulator socks only come in two sizes. but there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds.
The best patterned compression socks
Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.
Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women
Cons: Can get expensive
First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.
I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHg depending on the style.
Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.
What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the color block options, as well as a Rugby Stripe pattern for men.
Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.
Who should wear compression socks?
Anyone can wear compression socks but they do figure to benefit some groups more than others. This predominantly includes athletes, pregnant women, and elderly people, though anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time at work should consider them as well.
Deatherage suggested that if you work out in the morning before sitting at a desk or standing all day, where your calves and ankles stay at the bottom of the gravity chain, it’s smart to wear compression socks post-workout. This helps with swelling and gets blood back to the heart.
Conversely, if you sit all day and prefer to work out at night, wearing compression socks while exercising after work may allow for less fatigue in the lower legs and can help enhance circulation.
Concerning the exact impact of compression socks on athletes, Deatherage told Insider that their effectiveness is still somewhat undecided. There is some research that confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.
A recently-published analysis in theOpen Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show that wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and, after the workout, less sore.
Even if it’s just a placebo effect, those training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and after for recovery may help make training easier.
“When looking at the cost-benefit ratio and considering what research is out there, it’s not a bad idea,” Deatherage said. “And it’s an easy thing to do.”
Besides runners, Deatherage says pregnant women may benefit from compression socks, as they’re more prone to swelling. Venous issues are also particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their bodies.
Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.
Elderly people with deep vein thrombosis, those who just had surgery on their legs, or anyone trying to minimize varicose veins or blood clot concerns, might also benefit from compression socks. The catch is here is that these more serious vascular issues, including varicose veins, would benefit more from medical grade compression socks, Deatherage added, which requires a doctor prescription and are often more expensive.
How to shop for compression socks
If you’re simply looking for workout recovery or want relief from more minor issues of swelling or soreness, say on long flights or during long work shifts on your feet (like nurses), you may see advantages from more moderate compression socks, Deatherage said. This includes socks with ratings of about 10-20mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury (a measurement of pressure).
When shopping around for compression socks, Deatherage said that besides a sock’s mmHg rating, the most important thing to look for is comfort, saying that “compression socks only work if you wear them.”
Look for a pair in which the material feels comfortable against your skin, and a set that feels snug but not too tight — you don’t want to restrict your movement. If you can find a pair that offers customization for your size, that’s even better.
Compression sock ratings
As noted above, the compression in the stockings is measured in mm Hg. Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.
None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.
Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.
How best to use compression socks
There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well:
Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
Dumbbells are an effective fitness tool for anyone looking to build and maintain strength.
The best vary in style, with some allowing for quick weight adjustments while others are compact for easy storage.
Our top pick, the Powerblock dumbbells, essentially replace 28 pairs of weights and adjust from 5 to 90 pounds.
Dumbells are among the most common and sought-after pieces of workout equipment, no matter if you’re at an actual fitness center or working out in your own home gym – and it’s not hard to see why. Not only can they be effective when used correctly but they’re highly versatile, too, capable of sufficing for a number of workouts like curls, presses, or rows.
It’s because of that multi-purpose use, however, that finding dumbbells typically goes one of two ways; either it’s far too expensive to buy multiple weights or they’re just entirely out of stock. This sort of Catch-22 makes actually shopping for dumbbells a much more arduous task than it needs to be.
But within that problem came a reasonable solution: more brand competition. And while the influx of brands dukes it out to develop the next great dumbbell, the true winners are those looking to buy them. Now, this doesn’t mean the market is flush with options but it does mean there are few more quality choices on the market (of which are, hopefully, in stock and available for purchase).
Take Powerblock, for instance, a brand that’s been around for several years but is finally starting to gather more attention thanks to a highly innovative take on the standard dumbbell. In essence, one Powerblock dumbbell takes the place of up to 28 different pairs of weights. Not only is this efficient but it’s also cost-effective as it’s not anywhere near the price of buying those 28 sets of weights on their own.
Powerblock is but one of dozens of companies trying their hand at offering a worthy dumbbell, and I saw to it to try as many of them as I could. Below are my five favorites across categories such the best budget-friendly option, the best app-connected dumbbell, and even the best traditional set.
Editor’s note: Due to the constant fluctuation of online inventories, we’re doing what we can to keep up with out-of-stock items or those available in limited supply. We review each product’s availability weekly to assure the guide is properly updated, though sometimes this means one or more of the included items may be sold out, or available via a third party.
Powerblock’s dumbbells are highly versatile in that they offer a wide range of weight variation in just one, easy-to-stow form factor — if you can find them for sale, buy them.
Pros: Max weight of 90 pounds, relatively affordable, sturdy and natural feeling
Cons: Slightly awkward weight-changing mechanism, may be a little long at max weight
The first time I saw these sitting in a weight room, I figured they’d be horribly awkward to lift. The rectangular dumbbells appear large and clunky, but I was surprised by how well they moved during workouts like Romanian deadlifts or chest presses.
Like the Fatbells below, Powerblock dumbbells feature a handle that’s more centered in the apparatus. The weight surrounds your hands on all sides and as a result, they feel comfortable to move. They’re also constructed from steel, making them feel stronger and sturdier compared to other options built from plastic.
My favorite aspect of these dumbbells is that they’re able to load up to 90 pounds, which is enough to ensure you get plenty of mileage out of them as you get stronger. I’ve used these sparingly but they will, without a doubt, be my first purchase when I start building my ultimate home gym.
To be finicky, I’d say the selecting mechanism isn’t as efficient compared to Bowflex’s dial system. With Powerblock, you select the weights directly on the bell with a vertically-set pin. Changing the weight requires you to pull the pin from the side of the bell and move it either up (lighter) or down (heavier). While it’s not as smooth to use as a dial, it’s not a complete dealbreaker.
The weight plates still sit on either end like a standard dumbbell, so despite looking foreign, they feel familiar and aren’t any more substantial than a heavy pair of dumbbells. Overall, these will save you from buying 28 pairs of individual dumbbells — or roughly 2,565 pounds of weights. That’s thousands of dollars of savings on its own.
Powerblock’s Home Rack Stand, which the brand sells for $179, makes it far easier to hoist the weights onto your lap or shoulders for presses. It’s not a necessity but having used the stand myself, I recommend it.
The best app-connected dumbbells
If you’re a techie, or simply meticulous about tracking sets and reps, the Bowflex SelectTech 560 app-connected bells are for you.
Pros: Tracks sets and reps via a companion app, space-saving, easy to change weight
Cons: Max weight of 60 pounds
These dumbbells pair via Bluetooth to the Bowflex app which allows them to automatically record lifted weight, as well as all sets and reps per exercise. This is useful for tracking total volume, especially when your progress is smaller.
Other than the Powerblocks, these are the only other adjustable dumbbells on our list. They’re not as sturdy as our overall pick, though they’re a solid pair of dumbbells that look sleek and save a ton of space. They also come with a floor stand for better storage.
The knurled handle provides plenty of grip and the square plates on each end feel secure for even more dynamic movements like snatches and cleans. Also, the squared-off shape of the weights keep you stable while doing pushups.
Compared to Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 dumbbells, which only go up to 52.5 pounds, these adjust to an even 60 pounds. That’s a decent amount of weight for most people and should serve you well for almost any exercise. Do keep in mind that as you get stronger over time, there’s a decent chance you’ll outgrow these weights and need more than 60 pounds in a dumbbell.
The best dumbbells for comfort
You won’t find these in any commercial gym but the Thompson Fat Bells are an innovative take on the classic dumbbell.
Pros: Very comfortable, more natural to lift, made from durable cast iron
Cons: Expensive, have to buy multiple pairs, not space-friendly
The handle is inside a spherical weight, which centers the load entirely and evenly around your wrist. This allows the dumbbell to feel more comfortable and natural.
Invented by powerlifting legend Donnie Thompson in 2006, Fat Bells are a unique take on the kettlebell — though, to me, they’re interchangeable with dumbbells, too. As Thompson explains on Rogue.com, “it’s a perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance.” Your hand is an equal distance away from every portion of the sphere for a perfect geometrical design.
What I like about these is that you’re able to become one with the weight. Instead of holding a clunky piece of iron, you have a compact load you’ll hardly notice —other than the fact it’s heavy. They do feel slightly off at first due to the fact you’re not used to where the weight is centered but you’ll get over that quickly. I like to use them for moves such as chest presses and rows, since I typically go heavier, and these feel more secure.
Fat Bells aren’t cheap and you’ll most likely need to buy more than one pair. If you’re looking to splurge on your home gym, I’d say opt for one moderate pair (35-50 pounds for men and 15-35 pounds for women) so you have the most versatility with them.
Pros: Inexpensive, can handle as much weight as you own, great grip, space-friendly
Cons: Requires weight plates, not as easy to load as adjustable dumbbells
I’d never used this brand personally but the loadable handle on these is very similar to the pair I own. The biggest plus is how affordable they are compared to other options. Of course, you’ll have to buy weight plates but if you’re a home-gym owner, there’s a good chance you have some sitting around already. If that’s the case, these are your best bet. We also recommend investing in a set of barbell collars to stop the weights from sliding off of the handles.
The sleeve, or end of the dumbbell, fits standard Olympic weight plates. If you already own a squat rack and a barbell, then the plates you have should suffice — though it’s worth it to double-check before purchasing. Another plus is that these handles from Titan Fitness are 20 inches, meaning you’re able to load them with a lot of weight. If you’re a stronger lifter, then you won’t be limited to just 90 pounds for moves like rows and chest presses. For reference, many powerlifters and bodybuilders can press and row weights well over 100 pounds.
Lifting dumbbells loaded with Olympic plates can make some exercises awkward. The plates are large enough in diameter compared to typical dumbbells they’re able to disrupt your range of motion. This tends to be problematic for moves like curls, lateral raises, and extensions while chest presses and rows should be unaffected. Another minor nitpick is that having to manually load plates manually isn’t as easy as using adjustable dumbbells.
Pros: Feels familiar, great grip, stable when lifting
Cons: Have to buy multiple pairs which can get expensive, takes up a lot of space, included weight only goes up to 25 pounds
Practically speaking, these aren’t the best dumbbells you can buy but, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. These dumbbells don’t offer any sort of fancy weight mechanism or require a complicated method for use —and that’s their major appeal.
The handles are nicely knurled (i.e. they feature a pattern of angled lines etched into the steel of the dumbbell) so they won’t slip out of your hands, and the hexagonal rubber ends won’t roll around on the floor. From personal experience, I like using this type of dumbbell for heavy chest presses since they feel stable in my hands and the weight is more evenly distributed compared to the modern models in this guide.
Now, the downsides: You have to buy multiple pairs to have access to a variety of weight. This means the cost adds up rather quickly. Plus, the more dumbbells you own, the more space it’ll take up, so you’ll likely have to buy a dumbbell rack to hold your increasing collection.
Many of the most affordable sets, like our pick here, only go up to 25 pounds. This is great for exercises like curls, light presses, or squats, but it’s likely you’ll graduate from that weight quickly. But if it’s familiarity you seek, this is the set for you.
How to properly use dumbbells
Getting that toned look most people covet comes down to reducing body fat percentage and gaining muscle mass. The former comes down almost entirely to your diet while gaining muscle involves a balanced weight-training regimen in addition to the diet.
You’ll want to focus on two things:
Placing tension on your muscles bylifting weight
Increasing the total volume (or, amount of weight lifted) over time
To find this, multiply your total reps for one exercise by the amount of weight used. For example, if you do dumbbell chest presses for three sets of 10 reps with 50 pounds, multiply 30 (sets times reps) by 50 to get 1,500 pounds for that exercise. If you were to lift 55 pounds for just one of your sets next week, you’d increase your total volume to 1,550.
Your goal for each workout should be to slightly increase your volume for each move. Add volume by adding weight or increasing your total reps.
A general rule of thumb is to find a weight you’re able to use for three sets of eight reps. Add one rep to each set each week and once you reach 12 reps, add five pounds and start back at eight reps.
It’s good to have a light, moderate, and heavy pair of dumbbells if this is your primary source of exercise. That way, you can increase your total volume without having to pump out an insane amount of reps with a lighter pair.
How to shop for dumbbells
Before you start the process of finding a set that’s right for you, it’s important to know what a dumbbell is and why they’re an important investment for your home gym. Put plainly, a dumbbell consists of a central handle with weight on either end capable of ranging anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds.
Dumbbells are a versatile foray into weight training for beginners, too. Anything you’re able to do with a barbell, you can do with a dumbbell — albeit with lighter weight. Lifting dumbbells is a great way to teach yourself moves like the squat, overhead press, and row before graduating to the heavier weight a barbell often affords. They’re also less cumbersome than barbells and much easier to store in your home or apartment.
More advanced trainees benefit from the fact dumbbells allow you to better isolate your muscles unilaterally (one side at a time), as your right and left sides need to work independently to balance the weights. In turn, you’ll strengthen your weaker side, which translates to stronger and more efficient lifts overall.
According to personal trainer, Chris Parnell, lifting with dumbbells is also a great way to give your abs extra attention. He asserts that, compared to barbells, dumbbells challenge your body’s stability more. With a barbell, you work with a singular mass versus the dumbbell that uses two separate masses.
“Dumbbells provide the beginner or advanced lifter with an opportunity to exercise using compound movements [moves that move more than one joint at once] with low to high intensity using two separate masses,” Parnell told Insider.
Our testing methodology
Each set of dumbbells in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Design, quality, portability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which dumbbells made this guide:
Design: Dumbbell design is mostly straightforward, though unique innovations from brands like Powerblock and Bowflex have turned the humble dumbbell into a versatile all-in-one gym. What I mean by this is that both of the dumbbells featured in this guide from those brands are designed to be several sets of dumbbells in the form of just one set.
This means you don’t have to buy a set of 5 lb weights, a set of 15 lb weights, and a set of 25 lb weights. You buy either of those and you have the adjustability to hit any weight you’d need. The design choices I looked for in standard dumbbells were how well they felt while holding and if they were versatile for a variety of lifts.
Quality: Most steel dumbbells feature a quality that allows them to last literal decades (if taken care of) before you’d even need to think about replacing them. Because of this, it’s easy to spot a dumbbell that’s made of anything other than quality metal. Thankfully, this never was an issue during testing. This category was useful when judging how well the adjustable systems of the Bowflex and Powerblock dumbbells would hold up over time.
Portability: Yet another category where praise heaps onto the adjustable dumbbells are portability. When you’re forced to buy multiple sets of dumbbells in different weights, the problem of how to store them can add up quite quickly. Though some come with their own stand like the traditional set from CAP, not all options are that convenient.
Value: Considering how expensive dumbbells can get when buying multiple sets (and especially when stock is low and demand is high), value is a key component. But it’s also important not to buy an inferior set if it’s your only option. I view value as the combination of the categories listed above as well as its final sticker price — and feel that spending more on a quality product is better than spending less, more often on something that’s second-rate.
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Aloe vera relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and decreases redness, making it a great ingredient to treat sunburns.
With summer here and long days spent in the sun on the horizon, you’ll want to stock up on some great aloe vera gels in case of burn.
We rounded up 7 skin-soothing aloe vera gels you can find on Amazon and have in your medicine cabinet asap.
Summer is here. With the UV getting higher, SPF should be an essential part of your skincare routine. Even if you’re reapplying all day long, sometimes you just get burnt. Whether you’re peeling or just a little red, your summer skin will benefit from lots of hydration. A soothing aloe vera gel is a must-have in case of any summer sunburn emergencies.
Aloe vera is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and has historically been used to treat wounds and burns. While it won’t magically make your sunburn go away, aloe vera will provide instant cooling, soothing relief. Aloe moisturizes skin, reduces inflammation and redness, and even stimulates collagen production, which helps aid in the healing process. This summer, we recommend stocking up on lots of great SPF and aloe vera products to keep your skin in prime condition. Below, find 7 of our favorite aloe vera gels you can buy on Amazon right now.
Jason is known for its all-natural body care products like this paraben-, sulfate-, and petrolatum-free aloe vera gel. It also features allantoin and vitamin B5 to replenish and recondition dry, itchy skin.